A daily bath or shower is a routine for many of us — and for our children, too. But is it really necessary? The short answer is no.
Sometimes a doctor may recommend daily bathing for certain skin conditions. And we all need to wash our hands regularly to prevent infection. But full-body washing just for the sake of washing? Not so much.
Why not bathe a child daily?
Lots of bathing can lead to dry, irritated skin. But also, the skin has natural protective oils, and natural bacteria, that help to keep us healthy and safe — and that can get washed away with daily bathing.
If your baby or preteen looks pretty clean, isn’t stinky, isn’t covered in bug spray and hasn’t been in a pool or other body of water, it’s fine to skip the bath or shower.
Really, bathing two or three times a week is fine. In fact, for many kids, even just once or twice a week is fine. You can always do a quick wipe with a wet washcloth to the face, groin area and dirty spots.
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Stinky teenagers might need more bathing or showering, depending on activity level and deodorant use. But even they may be able to get away with washing their face and using a soapy washcloth on their groin and underarms.
When to wash
Obviously, there are days when washing up makes good sense — like if your child is grimy from a day in the dirt; is covered in sweat, paint or other visible dirt; or had an explosive poop.
It’s also a good idea to wash up if your child has spent the day in a pool (the chlorine may be irritating to the skin), a body of water (there could be things in the water that are irritating or unhealthy) or well-covered in bug spray to ward off ticks and mosquitoes.
And certainly, it’s best for everyone in the vicinity when a stinky teenager takes a soapy shower.
- Use warm water instead of hot.
- Keep it short — preferably just enough time to get the washing done.
- Avoid antibacterial soaps and bubble baths. Use mild, unscented soaps.
- Pat dry rather than rubbing dry. If your child has dry skin, use an unscented moisturizer after bathing.
- If your child has a skin condition, check with your doctor for advice.